Ju-On: The Grudge was such a deviation from traditional horror games we got in touch with Feelplus to discuss the game’s development. In this interview, Makoto Chida, Project Manager, explained where the “haunted house simulator” concept came from and how Takashi Shimizu contributed to the game’s development.
Why did you want to make a game based on Ju-On?
Makoto Chida, Project Manager: From the beginning of the project we wanted to create a horror game on the Wii for the casual gamers. We looked into a lot of different horror licenses and decided that Ju-On will be the perfect title that best fit what we wanted to do. Also it was a great timing for the license, since it was the anniversary and later found out that two new movies were under development.
What was it like working with Takashi Shimizu? What elements or suggestions did he add during development? [Editor’s note: Shimizu is the director of the Ju-On films.]
It was really interesting planning with Takashi Shimizu and imagining the reaction of the players when they played the game. He directed the opening movie sequence and the scare gimmicks within the game, as well as how Kayako should move without making it mechanical.
Can you tell us how the game links to the films?
The characters you will be playing have no relation to the film; it’s an entirely new family that gets caught in this unfortunate curse of Grudge. The link will be the ghosts (Kayako and Toshio) and the Saeki house. As long as the Saeki house still exists it could be placed any time in the Ju-On timeline.
Where did the concept of a "haunted house simulator" come from?
We wanted a combination of “horror game” and “casual game” into one. We thought the idea of using the Wii remote as a flashlight and making the gameplay simple, users could really “feel” and experience the Ju-On world.
It seems like Ju-On: The Grudge could have worked as a survival horror game too. How come you didn’t make a more traditional game?
We had doubts of making a traditional horror game were the player goes and defeats the enemies to advance, especially in Ju-On. During the development process, we tried implementing more puzzle-solving or actions elements but it actually made it too agile.
I like how a second player can trigger scares with a remote. What inspired this?
We wanted to create a game for the casual gamers where family and friends could get together and enjoy the game as a group. Since the main purpose of the 2P mode is not to help the 1P but rather scare them, we thought it would be a great way to enjoy it with your friends and family.
One of the challenges of a game like Ju-On is making sure there’s replay value. How did you tackle this?
This will be similar to the answer above, but we wanted to make this title is something you can enjoy alone, as well as in a group. So, after you play and finish the title you can bring it out when friends come over, or play it together at a party to enjoy watching other people get scared.
Will we see any other Ju-On games from AQ Interactive in the future?
I would like to work on it again for Ju-On or perhaps another horror title. Since this was a new concept we would be delighted if people see it in a favorable light and enjoy the title.